Friday, April 27, 2012

Panchayat Empowerment and Accountability Incentive Scheme

Panchayat Empowerment and Accountability Incentive Scheme (PEAIS) is a Central Sector Plan Scheme being implemented by the Ministry of Panchayati Raj since 2005-06.  PEAIS aims to (i) incentivize States to devolve 3Fs (functions, funds and functionaries) to Panchayats and (ii) incentivize Panchayats to put in place accountability systems to make their functioning transparent and efficient.  Performance of States is measured through a Devolution Index (DI) prepared through an independent agency.  Awards are given to best performing States/UTs based on their rank on DI annually.  From 2011-2012, Panchayats have been incentivized for their performance during the year 2010-2011. The State/UT Governments have been advised to utilise the amount released for the development of Panchayati Raj in the State.

Bachat Lamp Yojana

Till now 259.16 lakh Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs) have been distributed under the Bachat Lamp Yojana (BLY) scheme. In the 11th Plan total funds allocated for the scheme were Rs.18.32 crores.

The BLY scheme has been designed on Public Private Partnership mode. The Umbrella Framework for BLY has been registered as a Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) Programme of Activities (PoA). The private investors can participate in the BLY scheme and develop the CDM projects and distribute CFLs in co-ordination with the State Electricity Distribution Companies (DISCOMs). The private investor invests into the BLY project and earns the carbon credits for the same. Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) acts as an overall coordinator for the BLY projects.

Under the BLY Scheme, no exemption/tax holiday/subsidy is provided to the CFL manufacturers. The scheme was approved for the 11th Plan and is proposed with modifications in the 12th Plan also.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Sachin Tendulkar, Rekha nominated to Rajya Sabha

Cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar and Bollywood actor Rekha are among four eminent persons who have been nominated to the Rajya Sabha by the UPA government.
Tendulkar, 39, who has 100 international centuries to his credit, and Rekha, 57, who made a name for herself in the 1980s in the Hindi filmdom through a variety of roles she played with ease and brilliance, will become members under Article 80 of the Constitution, which allows the President to nominate to the Rajya Sabha 12 members having special knowledge of, or practical experience in, literature, science, art and social service.
One of the top heroines of yesteryear, Rekha has won many prestigious awards during her career.
She won accolades and the national award for her portrayal of ‘Umrao Jaan' in Muzaffar Ali's film of the same name.
Highly placed government sources said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had written to the Home Ministry. There was no official word on the other two names recommended for nomination.
There has been a long-standing demand from several quarters for conferring the country's highest civilian honour Bharat Ratna on Tendulkar for his contribution to cricket. He enjoys a phenomenal fan following in not only India but also many other countries. He scored the historic 100th international hundred against Bangladesh in Dhaka last month.
In the recent past, well-known film personalities, including Shyam Benegal, Mrinal Sen and Lata Mangeshkar, have been nominated to the Rajya Sabha. The Rajya Sabha now has seven nominated members.


The PSLV-C19, the newest in the series of polar satellite launch vehicles of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), burst off the launch-pads of Sriharikota in the wee hours of April 26 on its space mission of placing indigenously developed Radar Imaging Satellite the RISAT-1 in a polar circular orbit.
After a customarily tense countdown at the ISRO's Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, at precisely 5.47 a.m., the launch vehicle’s core stage igniters and set of six strap-on motors ignited within seconds of each to signal the successful lift-off of the PSLV-C19 with the RISAT -1 firmly docked inside its metal frames. 
The RISAT-1 with a payload of 1858 kg, the heaviest satellite being launched yet by the PSLV, is a state-of-the-art Active Microwave Remote Sensing Satellite carrying a Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) payload that will operate in the C-band. In simpler terms, the RISAT-1 can beam back imaging of the earth surface features during day and night and under all imagined weather conditions. The SAR which gives the RISAT-1 its magic lens also makes it superior to the generation of optical remote sensing satellites in terms of clearer imaging at all times and under any condition.
Once the PSLV-C19 successfully completed each of the four stages of its flight in a span of 18 minutes and reported normal parameters, congratulatory scenes broke out at the Mission Directorate at Sriharikota. 
According to ISRO scientists, once the satellite onboard propulsion system will raise the orbital altitude to 536 km with orbital inclination of approximately 97 degrees to place the RISAT-1 into a polar sun-synchronous orbit, the satellite will begin its daily routine of 14 orbits with a of 25 days. During its mission life of five years, RISAT-1 will use its active microwave remote sensing capability for cloud penetration and day-night imaging of the earth surface and provide critical data inputs for a range of applications.
The satellite’s applications will range across agriculture — paddy monitoring in the kharif season — and management of natural disasters like flood and cyclone and could greatly assist food security planning in India.
The Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, in its 21st flight (PSLV-C19), launches India’s first Radar Imaging Satellite – RISAT-1 into a Polar Circular Orbit with an altitude of 480 km (+ 40.5 km) and orbital inclination of 97.552 (+ 0.2). RISAT-1 weighing 1858 kg is the heaviest satellite being launched by PSLV.

This is the third flight of the high end version (PSLV-XL) with six extended strap-on motors, each carrying 12 tonnes of solid propellant. (The two earlier flights of PSLV-XL were used to launch Chandrayaan-1 and GSAT-12 Communication Satellite) 
Radar Satellite-1 (RISAT-1) is a state of the art Microwave Remote Sensing Satellite carrying a Synthetic Aperture Reader (SAR) Payload operating in C-band (5.35 GHz), which enables imaging of the surface features during both day and night under all weather conditions.  
List of ISRO Satellites:
Launch Date
Launch Vehicle
Type of Satellite
Earth Observation Satellite
Experimental / Small Satellite
Experimental / Small Satellite
Earth Observation Satellite
Geo-Stationary Satellite
Geo-Stationary Satellite
Earth Observation Satellite
Experimental / Small Satellite
Geo-Stationary Satellite
Experimental / Small Satellite
Earth Observation Satellite
Geo-Stationary Satellite
Earth Observation Satellite
Experimental / Small Satellite
RISAT-2 20.04.2009
Earth Observation Satellite
Space Mission
Earth Observation Satellite
Earth Observation Satellite
Geo-Stationary Satellite
Earth Observation Satellite
SRE - 1
Experimental / Small Satellite
Geo-Stationary Satellite
Geo-Stationary Satellite
Geo-Stationary Satellite
Experimental / Small Satellite
Earth Observation Satellite
Geo-Stationary Satellite
Earth Observation Satellite
Geo-Stationary Satellite
Geo-Stationary Satellite
Geo-Stationary Satellite
Geo-Stationary Satellite
Ariane-42L H10-3
Geo-Stationary Satellite
Technology Experiment Satellite (TES)
Earth Observation Satellite
Geo-Stationary Satellite
Geo-Stationary Satellite
Earth Observation Satellite
Ariane-42P H10-3
Geo-Stationary Satellite
January 1998
Ariane-44L H10
Geo-Stationary Satellite
Earth Observation Satellite
Ariane-44L H10-3
Geo-Stationary Satellite
Earth Observation Satellite
Earth Observation Satellite
Ariane-44L H10-3
Geo-Stationary Satellite
Earth Observation Satellite
Stretched Rohini Satellite Series (SROSS-C2)
Space Mission
Earth Observation Satellite
Ariane-44L H10+
Geo-Stationary Satellite
Ariane-44L H10
Geo-Stationary Satellite
Stretched Rohini Satellite Series (SROSS-C)
Space Mission
Earth Observation Satellite
Delta 4925
Geo-Stationary Satellite
Geo-Stationary Satellite
Stretched Rohini Satellite Series
Earth Observation Satellite
Earth Observation Satellite
Stretched Rohini Satellite Series
Space Mission
Shuttle [PAM-D]
Geo-Stationary Satellite
Rohini (RS-D2)
Earth Observation Satellite
Delta 3910 PAM-D
Geo-Stationary Satellite
C-1 Intercosmos
Earth Observation Satellite
Ariane Passenger Payload Experiment (APPLE)
Geo-Stationary Satellite
Rohini (RS-D1)
Earth Observation Satellite
Rohini (RS-1)
Experimental / Small Satellite
Rohini Technology Payload (RTP)
Experimental / Small Satellite
C-1 Intercosmos
Earth Observation Satellite
C-1 Intercosmos
Experimental / Small Satellite


Proposal for establishment of Integrated Vaccine Complex (IVC) at Chengaipattu

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved the proposal of the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare for establishment of an Integrated Vaccine Complex (IVC) at Chengalpattu, Kanchipuram district (Tamil Nadu). The complex will be established by M/s HLL Life Care Limited, a public sector undertaking of the Ministry at an estimated cost of Rs. 594 crore. The project is likely to be completed by 2014.

The complex shall be the nodal center for research, manufacture and supply of vaccines at affordable prices for the Universal Immunization Programme (UIP) of the Government of India. The vaccines to be manufactured in the IVC are pentavalent combination (DPT plus Hep B plus Hib), BCG, measles, Hepatitis B, Human Rabies, Hib and Japanese Encephalitis vaccine. The annual capacity of IVC is expected to be around 585 million doses. The vaccines manufactured in the IVC complex are proposed to meet about 75% of the total requirement of vaccines covered under the UIP and shall be able to meet the requirements of the major disease preventable vaccines in the country to a large extent.

The project is of national importance and will provide vaccine security and consequently the health security of the nation. Vaccines produced in the complex shall be utilized for immunization of pregnant women, infants and small children against various diseases throughout the country.

Programme on National Monsoon Mission

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs  approved the implementation of the programme of the National Monsoon Mission at the Earth System Science Organisation (ESSO) for a period of five years.

The main objectives of the National Monsoon Mission are:

(i) To build a working partnership between the academic and R&D organisations both national and international and the operational agencies to improve the operational monsoon forecast skill over the country.

(ii) To set up a state of the art dynamic modelling framework for improving the prediction skill of:

a. Seasonal and extended range prediction system (16 days to one season)

b. Short to medium range prediction system (up to 15 days).

The Mission has a budget of Rs.400 crore for five years to support the research work related to the mission.

The National Monsoon Mission after its implementation will help to implement a dynamic prediction system for the prediction of monsoon in all time scales, short range to seasonal time scale at appropriate spatial scales with improved prediction skill. The forecasts based on this prediction system will cater to the needs of various sectors like agriculture, water resources management, power generation, disaster management, tourism and transport.

The programme will be undertaken through two sub-missions on two different time scales, (i) extended range to seasonal time scale to be coordinated by the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) Pune/ESSO and (ii) short to medium range scale, to be coordinated by the National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting (NCMRWF)/ESSO. The Indian National Center for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS)/ESSO will provide the ocean observations for assimilation and the India Meteorological Department/ESSO will implement the research outcome of the efforts in operational mode. The Mission will support focused research by national and international research groups with definitive objectives and deliverables to improve the models in the short, medium, extended and seasonal range scales at appropriate spatial scales. The Mission will also support observational programmes that will result in better understanding of the processes. The progress of the National Monsoon Mission will be reviewed and monitored by two committees. The Scientific Review and Monitoring Committee (SRMC) will review the research proposals from different research groups and monitor the progress of the research work. The Scientific Steering Committee (SSC), which is the apex body will steer the programme, advise and direct midcourse corrections, if any.


Prediction of monsoon rainfall variability in all spatial and time scales is very important for many sectors like agriculture, water resources management, power generation and natural ecosystems and thus economy of the country. The present statistical methods being used by the India Meteorological Department have some constraints to meet specific user requirements for forecasts on finer spatial and temporal scale. Therefore, it is necessary to make use of the state of the art dynamic models to improve monsoon prediction skills.

Clean Technology Industries under RGUMY

Rajiv Gandhi Udyami Mitra Yojana (RGUMY) is a scheme of handholding of prospective first generation entrepreneurs. The objective of the Scheme is to provide handholding support and assistance to the potential first generation entrepreneurs, who have already successfully completed or are undergoing Entrepreneurship Development Training Programme (EDP)/Skill Development Training Programme (SDP)/Entrepreneurship cum Skill Development Training Programme (ESDP)/Vocational Training Programmes (VT), through the selected lead agencies i.e. `Udyami Mitras’. This is to assist them in the establishment and management of new enterprise, in dealing with various procedural and legal hurdles and in completion of various formalities required for setting up and running of the enterprise. Another objective of the Scheme is to provide information, support, guidance and assistance to first generation entrepreneurs as well as other existing entrepreneurs through an ‘Udyami Helpline’ (a Call Centre for MSMEs having toll free number 1800-180-6763), to guide them regarding various promotional schemes of the Government, procedural formalities required for setting up and running of the enterprise and help them in accessing Bank credit etc. Prospective entrepreneurs wanting to set up clean technology industries may seek handholding assistance of Udyami Mitras under RGUMY. However, no specific proposal to assist entrepreneurs wanting to set up clean technology industries under RGUMY is before the Government.

Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) conducts various training programmes for agro-based rural industries, including Entrepreneurship Development Programmes for setting up micro-enterprises in the non-farm sector under the Prime Minister’s Employment Programme (PMEGP). These include training programmes for processing of organic farm produce.

Railways ‘Go-India’ smart Card on Pilot Basis

The introduction of a pan-India, multi-purpose “Go-India” smart card on a pilot basis was announced in the Railway Budget presented for the financial year 2011-12.

The pilot project is at the development stage. There is no such problem at this stage.

Delhi-Mumbai and the Delhi-Howrah sectors have been identified for the implementation of “Go-India” smart card on a pilot basis. Allahabad Railway station falls in the Delhi-Howrah sector and is therefore covered under the pilot project.

Extension in implementation period and revision in allocation of funds in the Jute Technology Mission

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs approved extension of the Jute Technology Mission and revision in allocation of funds. This will give an impetus to the Jute Technology Mission for better agronomic practices and operationalise enhanced efficiencies of scale and latest technological practices in development of the jute sector.

The following has been approved:

(a) Extension in implementation period of the "Jute Technology Mission (2006-07 to 2010-11)" by two years beyond 2010-11 (i.e. 2006-07 to 2012-13).

(b) Year-wise reallocation of funds among the Missions while maintaining the overall grants at the same level as was approved by the CCEA vide its meeting held in June, 2006.

It will provide benefits to 0.37 million workers employed in jute mills and ancillary units as well as support the livelihood of around 4.0 million farm families through successful implementation of the Jute Technology Mission. Besides, it will help to modernize the jute industry and enable the country to reap the benefits of enhanced levels of jute diversification.


The Government of India launched the Jute Technology Mission (JTM) spanning a period of 5 years during the 11th Five Year Plan period (2007-08 to 2011-12) for overall development of the jute industry and growth of the Jute Sector. The Jute Technology Mission with a total outlay of Rs. 355.55 crore has four Mini Missions pertaining to agriculture research and seed development, agronomic practices, harvest and post harvest techniques, primary and secondary processing of raw jute, diversified product development and marketing and distribution.

Thamanti Dam

Government of India and Government of Myanmar signed an Agreement in 2008 for development of Chindwin River Valley. Based on this Agreement, NHPC was asked to undertake additional investigations and prepare the Detailed Project Report (DPR) on the Thamanti Hydro-Electric Power Project (HEP). NHPC has completed the DPR on Thamanti in October, 2011.

Thamanti HEP is estimated to generate a total of 1200 Megawatts (MW) of electricity. As per DPR, approximately 41092 persons of 7411 households would be affected due to the construction of proposed Thamanti Project. Total area under submergence is estimated to be about 1374 Reservoir area would cover from Tazon village to Hkanti. Most of the areas under submergence is forest land. The Social and Environmental Impact Assessment studies are included in the DPR of Thamanti Hydro-Electric Power Project.

Scehmes for Welfare of Women

            A number of schemes for welfare of women are being implemented by the Ministry for Women and Child Development. The major schemes among these are:

(i)            Working Women’s Hostel (WWH) Scheme envisages provision of safe and affordable hostel accommodation to working women, single working women, women working at places away from their home-towns and for women being trained for employment.  The scheme has been revised recently.

(ii)           Support to Training and Employment Programme (STEP) for Women was launched as a Central Sector Scheme during 1986-87.  It aims at making a significant impact on women by upgrading skills for self and wage employment.  The target group includes the marginalized assetless rural women and urban poor.  This also includes wage labourers, unpaid daily workers, female headed households, women headed households and families below the poverty line.

(iii)          SwadharGreh Scheme - The Ministry of Women and Child Development had been administering Swadhar Scheme since 2001 for women in difficult circumstances.  Under the Scheme, temporary accommodation, maintenance and rehabilitative services are provided to women and girls rendered homeless due to family discord, crime, violence, mental stress, social ostracism.  Another scheme with similar objectives/target groups namely Short Stay Home (SSH) was being implemented by Central Social Welfare Board.  Being similar in objectives and target groups, both the schemes have been merged as Swadhar Greh scheme with revised financial parameters.

(iv)          Indira Gandhi Matriva Sahyog Yojana (IGMSY) is a Conditional Cash Transfer Scheme for pregnant and lactating (P&L) women to contribute to better enabling environment by providing cash incentives for improved health and nutrition.  The beneficiaries are paid Rs.4000/- in three instalments per P&L woman between the second trimester and till the child attains the age of 6 months, on fulfilling specific conditions.

(v)           National Mission for Empowerment of Women (NMEW) is an initiative of the Government of India for empowering women holistically.  It is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme sanctioned in April 2011 and acts as an umbrella Mission with a mandate to strengthen inter-sectoral convergence and facilitate the process of coordination of all the women’s welfare and socio-economic development programmes across Ministries and Departments. 

(vi)          Ujjawala is a comprehensive scheme for prevention of trafficking and rescue, rehabilitation and reintegration of victims of trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation.  Funds are released to NGOs as the scheme is being implemented mainly through NGOs.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Integrated Sewerage System under JNNURM

Under Urban Infrastructure & Governance (UIG) Sub-Mission of Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission(JNNURM) an Integrated Sewerage project has been approved for the Mission city of Bhubaneswar with approved cost of Rs.49891.35 lakhs and Additional Central Assistance (ACA) commitment of Rs.39913.08 lakhs.

Under Urban Infrastructure Development Scheme for Small and Medium Towns (UIDSSMT) of JNNURM a Sewerage project has been approved for the city of Sambalpur with approved cost of Rs.593.23 lakhs and Additional Central Assistance (ACA) commitment of Rs.483.48 lakhs.

The Mission has completed its normal tenure on 31st March, 2012. The Government has extended the period for further 2 years till March 31, 2014 only for completion of projects sanctioned upto 31st March, 2012 and ongoing reforms. This does not envisages sanction of any fresh project.

Strengthening of Indian Economy

The share of services sector in country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has risen from 50.4 per cent in 2000-01 to 59.0 per cent in 2011-12 (advance estimates).

Industrial growth has been antidote to poverty as the sector has general additional employment of 36.1 million as per Usual Principal and Subsidiary Status (UPSS) basis during 1999-00 and 2009-10.

During 2009-10 and 2010-11, automobiles, rubber and plastics, fabricated metal products, machinery and equipment and radio, TV and communication equipment segments had witnessed double digit growth. Whereas other industrial segments, including chemicals and chemical products, registered lower growth rates.

While pursuing a prudent macroeconomic policy for achieving higher economic growth, specific measures taken to boost growth, inter-aila, include enhancing investment in the infrastructure sector through creation of Infrastructure Debt Fund, focusing on public private partnerships, announcement of new manufacturing Policy and a number of legislative measures to develop banking sector in India. High growth in private investment and addressing supply bottlenecks in agriculture, energy and transport sectors, particularly in coal, power, national highways, railways and civil aviation are also contemplated. The recent reduction in policy rates by 50 basis points by the Reserve Bank of India is expected to further contribute to improved growth prospects.

Over 27000 Godowns Sanctioned under Gramin Bhandaran Yojana

Under Gramin Bhandaran Yojana, 27110 godowns with a total capacity of 310.29 lakh tonne have been sanctioned in the country up to 29 February, 2012, since the inception of the scheme in 2001.

The scheme is entrepreneur based and demand driven. The projects are sanctioned on the basis of proposals received by National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) and National Cooperative Development Corporation (NCDC).

Monday, April 23, 2012

3rd National Panchayati Raj Day

The Ministry of Panchayati Raj will be holding a day long National conference on the occasion of the 3rdNational Panchayati Raj Day at VigyanBhawan, New Delhi, on April 24. On the occasion, best performing Gram Panchayats would be conferred with” Rashtriya Gaurav Gram Sabha Purskar, 2012, while another 170 Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) comprising of three –tier Panchayats would be facilitated with Panchayat Sashaktikaran Puraskar for their exemplary work under the Panchayat Empowerment Accountability Incentive Scheme (PEAIS ).

During the conference, the five different groups of delegates would be discussing the topics such as (i) Gram Sabha and People’s Participation, (ii) Devolution of 3Fs i.e Funds, Functions and Functionaries (iii) Issues related to Women (iv) Agriculture, Rural Development and Livelihood and (v) Management of Forest Produce/Natural Resources.

Approximately 1500 delegates such as State Ministers for Panchayati Raj, Senior officials from State Government Panchayati Raj Departments, States elected representatives (ERs) from the three tiers of PRIs, the national award winning Panchayats as well as representatives from SCs/STs and Women would attend the National Conference.

The Constitution (73rd Amendment) Act, 1992 that came into force with effect from 24th April, 1993 has institutionalized Panchayati Raj through the Village, Intermediate and District levels Panchayats. This date thus marks a defining moment in the history of decentralization of political power to the grassroots level. The impact of the 73rd Amendment in rural India is very visible as it has changed power equations irreversibly. Accordingly, the Government of India decided in consultation with the States to celebrate 24th April as National Panchayati Raj Day. Ministry of Panchayati Raj organises National Conference on 24th April every year to commemorate the National Panchayati Raj Diwas.

International Sugar Council meets at Delhi to discuss Sugar Scenario

India is hosting the 41st Session of the International Sugar Council from 24th to 26th April 2012 at New Delhi. Briefing the media persons about the significance of the meet, Minister for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Prof. K.V. Thomas said that the meet will provide an opportunity to Indian Sugar sector to apprise itself of the latest developments in sugar industry across the world. It will also be an occasion to showcase the Indian sugar sector before the world.

Delegates from 32 countries and EU have confirmed their participation at the session being held under the Chairmanship of Dr. B.C. Gupta, Secretary, Department of Food and Public Distribution, Government of India.

Shri Pranab Mukherjee, Minister of Finance, Shri Sharad Pawar, Minister for Agriculture & Cooperation and Food Processing Industry and Shri K.V. Thomas, Minister for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution will address the opening session on the morning of the 24th of April 2012. The first day of the three-day session will be devoted to a workshop with the theme “India-Key player in the world sugar economy”. The scientific advances in sugarcane development and utilization, cooperatives as a model for the sugar industry and new trends in the global market will be discussed. A panel of discussion on key improvements/ innovations undertaken in the Indian sugar industry has also been planned.

Addressing the media person Executive Director of ISO, Dr. Peter Baron said that India by its sheer size the Indian sugar industry is one of the powers in the world sugar economy. Over the last ten years Indian was on average the world’s biggest consumer of sugar and the second largest single producer. He said that due to significant India is at the same time is a market maker.

Reports of the Market Evaluation, Consumption and Statistics Committee (MECAS) of the ISO covering Alternative Sweeteners, Outlook for Sugar and Ethanol Production in Brazil and Sugar Market Development and Drivers in the Former Soviet Union States are scheduled to be presented on the 2nd day of the session.

The first day of the session is also open to participants from the Indian sugar industry. The members from the Indian Sugar Mills Association and National Federation of Cooperative Sugar Factories shall be present for the day-long workshop.

SBI launches ‘virtual' card for online transactions

State Bank of India has launched a ‘virtual' electronic debit card for e-commerce transactions.
The ‘State Bank Virtual' card can be created by a customer using the bank's Internet Banking facility with transaction rights.
The product allows the user to create a virtual card for any online transaction and the customer is not required to share the details of the principal account on the merchant Web site, said the bank in a statement.
The new product is a convenient and secure gateway to online payment for SBI's Internet banking users. Among the features of the virtual card are: no charges on creation of the card and the customer can create any number of cards at the same time. The card is created for each online transaction and is valid for a maximum of 48 hours.
There is no transfer of balance from the principal account inasmuch as only a lien is marked on the account. The minimum amount with which the card can be loaded with is Rs 100. There is no upper limit.
Transfer of balance takes place only when the customer does the actual transaction online.

Offshore wind energy panel formed

In a bid to give a big thrust to wind power, the Ministry for New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has constituted an Offshore Wing Energy Steering Committee (OWESC) under the chairmanship of Secretary, MNRE to steer the offshore wind power development in India in a directed and focused manner especially in Tamil Nadu, Maharahstra and Gujarat.
This committee will work out a roadmap for offshore wind power development in the country. It has been pointed out in various studies carried out by C-WET and others which suggested offshore wind power potential in Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Maharashtra.
A Technical Committee has already been constituted to analyse the available data with various agencies for preliminary assessment of potential including identification of pockets for offshore wind power development.
The Offshore Wing Energy Steering Committee will focus on issues like allotment of offshore wind sites which requires multilayer clearances, coordination with various government departments/agencies such as Environment, Shipping, Defence, Maritime and Civil Aviation. The Committee will include various stakeholders including government department/agencies.
According to the terms and reference of OWESC, it will provide policy guidance for tapping offshore wind energy potential on sustained basis; approve plans and proposals relating to offshore wind energy development in the country; develop policy framework/guidelines for offshore wind resource assessment through public/private entities and guidelines for awarding the sites to private sector for establishing offshore wind power projects.
It would also work to create an institutional mechanism for inter-agency coordination for integration of offshore wind power with established uses of the sea; evaluation of the potential partners (private/public sector) for setting up of pilot offshore wind power projects of 100 m size in a period of 2-3 years and evaluation of PPP mode for offshore wind energy development.

‘Green' status of iron and steel plants to be released

Twenty-one iron and steel plants, having capacity of 0.5 million tonnes a year and above, are up for an independent “green” rating. The Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), a New Delhi-based NGO, has completed a survey of the country's top steel-sector players for the environmental ratings.
The results of the survey, conducted over around one year and nine months, and the rating details will be announced next month. The centre would also release a 200-page book on the environment status of the domestic steel sector on May 17.
Mr Umashankar S., the CSE programme manager for steel sector survey, told Business Line that the survey included relatively smaller plants as well as the large integrated manufacturing units, but left the captive mines out of its ambit.
“Iron ore and flux mining, a sector in itself, would be dealt with in another study report in future,” he added. The survey included all those units which met capacity criterion in the financial year of 2009-10.
The ratings are based on life-cycle analysis using more than 150 parameters, the CSE official said. The green rating project team of CSE inspected the plants and met local stakeholders to get the low-down view. “We have also drawn on media reports on the plants,” Mr Umashankar said.
State-promoted steel plants included five plants of SAIL in Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Jharkhand, and West Bengal, Vizag Steel of RINL and Neelachal Ispat Ltd at Kalinganagar in Odisha.
The CSE survey covered private facilities such as Jamshedpur plant of Tata Steel, Vijaynagar unit of JSW Steel, Hazira plant of Essar, Raigarh unit of Jindal Steel & Power, JSW Ispat's Dovi plant, Monnet Ispat's Raigarh unit, Visa Steel's Kalinganagar plant and Jai Balaji's Durgapur unit.
The Central Pollution Control Board categorised steel sector as one of the most polluting sector among 17 identified sectors. The CSE had earlier published green ratings and surveys on the pulp & paper, automobile, chlor-alkali and cement sectors.

Forest Academy felicitates 11 persons with “Green Warrior” awards

Sixty-four year-old Darpalli Ramaiah has only one ambition in life - to plant saplings and inspire others to do the same.
For the last 40 years, he has planted thousands of saplings and has been travelling across the State propagating the importance of planting trees.
Recognising his yeomen service, the Andhra Pradesh Forest Academy (APFA) felicitated him by presenting the “Green Warrior” award during the Earth Day celebrations organised on Sunday.
It was not just Ramaiah, APFA presented the award to 10 others, who have been striving hard to promote greenery and inspire others to protect the Earth.
One does not have to work hard or spend much to save the environment, all one needs to do is plant a sapling and make this Earth a better place to live for the next generation, said Mr. Ramaiah while addressing the gathering.
Accompanied by his wife Janamma, he presents a sapling to people on special occasions and even plants it at their residence.
To create awareness among people, the government should print the image of children planting a sapling on currency notes, he advised.

India leads world in spam email

India has acquired the dubious distinction of being the ``top spam-spewing nation on the planet’’ overtaking America, according to a report of the security firm Sophos which ranks nations by the amount of junk mail routed through computers in each country.
The report said that some ten per cent of all junk mail sent across the web came from or passed through computers in India with America in the second place at 8.3 per cent and South Korea third at 5.7 per cent.
It attributed India’s dramatic rise up the ``spam chart’’ partly to the inexperience of many of first-time internet users.
"The latest stats show that, as more first-time internet users get online in growing economies, they are not taking measures to block the malware infections that turn their PCs into spam-spewing zombies," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos.
Another-- more obvious-- reason underlined by the report was the exponential growth of the web in India. Another factor was that spammers were moving away from the traditional email route with more and more using social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter to spread their junk messages.
The report reckoned that about 80 per cent of all junk email was routed through PCs hijacked by hi-tech criminals who used computer viruses to seize control of the machines. Once a computer was under their control they used them to send out mail on their behalf, typically relaying it from another nation.

22 Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) Proposals worth Rs.586.137 crore approved by the Government

The Union government on 20 April 2012 approved 22 foreign direct investment (FDI) proposals, amounting to Rs.586.137 crore ($112.5 million). The proposals were cleared following recommendations made by the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) at its meeting on 30 March 2012.

The government cleared Shantha Biotechnics' proposal of Rs.514 crore to increase its foreign equity in brownfield pharmaceutical sector in order to carry out the activities of research, development, manufacturing and marketing of bio-tech products and other bio-generics.

It also cleared Mahindra and Mahindra's Rs.25.99-crore proposal for setting up a joint venture company to develop, manufacture and provide service support for radar systems and various kinds of defence electronic systems. The government also allowed Springer Editorial Services' Rs.12.87-crore proposal to increase foreign equity up to 100 per cent.

The ministry deferred 18 proposals, including those of Tara Aerospace Systems, Al Shukur Company for Engineering and Construction and Ordain Health Care Global. The ministry also rejected five proposals, including those of Verga Attachments, Quest Global Manufacturing and YourNest Angel Fund Trust. A proposal of Nikit Investments was withdrawn from the agenda.

Planning Commission approved 48935 Crore Rupees for Andhra Pradesh for the Year 2012-13

The Planning Commission on 18 April 2012 approved a total plan outlay of 48935 crore rupees for Andhra Pradesh for the year 2012-13. The total outlay for the state for the current year witnessed an increase of 13.8 per cent against the previous figure of 43000 crore rupees in the fiscal year 2011-12.
The plan size was finalised in a meeting between Commission's deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia and Andhra Pradesh chief minister Nallari Kiran Kumar Reddy.
In percentage terms the agriculture and allied sector in the state had declined from 25.07 per cent in 2004-05 to 19.22 per cent in 2011-12. The share of secondary sector remains around 24- 26 per cent from 2004-05 to 2011-12.

Sangeet Natak Akademi announces Tagore Samman

To commemorate the 150th Birth Anniversary of Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore, the Sangeet Natak Akademi, an autonomous body of the Union Ministry of Culture has instituted a one-time honour to 100 artists called the ‘Tagore Samman’ (50 Tagore Ratna and 50 Tagore Puraskar) to persons of the age of 75 years and above, who have made a significant contribution in the field of performing arts.
The Governor of West Bengal, Shri M.K. Narayanan will confer the prestigious Sangeet Natak Akademi Tagore Fellowships and Tagore Awards at a special ceremony on 25th April 2012 in Kolkata.  Twenty nine eminent personalities & scholars will be conferred Sangeet Natak Akademi Tagore Fellowships and thirty four art practitioners & gurus in the field of Dance, Drama & Music will receive the Sangeet Natak Akademi Tagore Awards in Kolkata.
In the second ceremony in Chennai, the Governor of Tamil Nadu, Dr K Rosaiah will confer the Akademi’s Tagore Fellowships to 20 eminent personalities of performing arts including scholars and Tagore Awards to eighteen eminent personalities on 2nd May 2012 in Chennai.
Altogether 100 Sammans will be conferred, out of which 50 are Fellows with purse money of Rs. 3 Lakh, a Tamrapatra and an Angavastram and remaining 50 Sammans are awards with purse money of Rs. 1 Lakh, a Tamrapatra and an Angavastram.    

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Russia to test first combat drone in 2014

Russia will test its first domestically-produced strike unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) in 2014, First Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Sukhorukov said on Friday. In February, Army General Nikolay Makarov, the chief of the Russian General Staff, said the drone would be first test flown in late 2012, a revision of the initial 2015 timeframe.

In early April, Russia's defense ministry issued a technical specification for the development of the drone. The new aircraft is expected to have a modular structure and be able to carry various types of equipment and armament.

The Tranzas company will build the UAV's on-board electronics as well as its navigation and control systems, while the airframe, which will weigh about five tonnes, will be produced by the Kazan-based Sokol design bureau.

Russia's defense ministry sealed contracts with Tranzas and Sokol worth an estimated 3 billion rubles (USD 101.9 million) in October 2011.In late March, Russian Air Force commander-in-chief Col. Gen. Alexander Zelin, told the Moskovsky Komsomolets tabloid that strike drones would enter service before 2020. He did not specify how many drones will be acquired.

The US has relied heavily on UAVs, including the Predator system, to carry out missile attacks on insurgents in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border area.

ISRO in active mode for Mars mission

India has completed a significant amount of work on next year’s planned Mars mission for which scientific payloads have been short-listed, with formal government approval for the ambitious venture expected soon.

Bangalore-headquartered ISRO is planning to undertake the mission to the planet Mars during November 2013. The project report for Indian Mars orbiter mission has been submitted for approval of Government.

The mission envisages launching an orbiter around Mars using Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-XL). The orbiter will be placed in an orbit of 500 x 80,000 km around Mars and will have a provision for carrying nearly 25 kg of scientific payloads on-board.

"The tentative scientific objective for the Mars mission will be to focus on life, climate, geology, origin, evolution and sustainability of life on the planet," according to an official ISRO report.

Scientific payloads have been short-listed by the ISRO’s Advisory Committee for Space Sciences (ADCOS) review committee. Baseline, solar array and reflector configuration of the satellite have been finalised. Frequency filing for communication subsystem is under progress, the space agency said in its just uploaded 2011-12 annual report.

Meanwhile, ISRO has signed a MoU with Indian Institute of Astrophysics for development and delivery of solar coronagraph payload for its ADITYA-1 project, while mechanical configuration of the satellite is in progress.

This project will be the first Indian space based solar coronagraph, which will be available for solar coronal observation to all the Indian researchers in the field of Solar Astronomy.

ADITYA-1 is the first space based Solar Coronagraph intended to study the outermost region of the sun called Corona. ADITYA-1 in the visible and near IR bands will study the Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) such as the coronal magnetic field structures and evolution of coronal magnetic field and consequently the crucial physical parameters for space weather.

The major scientific objective of the ADITYA-1 is to achieve a fundamental understanding of the physical processes that heat the solar corona (base to the extended), accelerate the solar wind and produce CMEs.

ISRO said preliminary design of the optical systems of ADITYA-1 has been finalised and design document generated; "Trade-off studies on the selection of detector system have been completed and the list of subsystem packages along with power and mass budget generated," it said.

ISRO has also planned “SENSE”, a twin satellite mission to probe the electromagnetic environment of the Earth's near space region. It is proposed to launch two small satellites in a low earth orbit of around 500 km, for space weather related studies.

SENSE is part of ISRO’s “Small Satellites Programme”, recommended by ISRO’s ADCOS. SENSE aims to unravel the roles played by major large-scale drivers in determining the state of the Ionosphere-Thermosphere system and the weather of the near space environment at low latitudes.

ISRO said engineering models of the electric and magnetic field probes chosen for the SENSE mission have already been tested and their frequency responses studied.

India joins elite club, launches ICBM Agni V missile

Making India the sixth nation to operate an ICBM missile, the indigenously developed nuclear capable Agni V Ballistic Missile was successfully test fired at around 8:05 AM from Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Wheeler Island off Odisha coast, the defence forces said.

The launch of the Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) Agni-5, which has a range of 5,000 km plus was scheduled on Wednesday but was postponed till Thursday morning due to harsh weather.

Soon after the maiden launch took place, Agni V witnessed a smooth and perfect vertical lift-off from the launcher and analysis was done to assess its health parameters after retrieval of date from all the sophisticated wide range of communication network systems, they said.

DRDO has also placed necessary equipments to collect data on the trajectory and flight of the missile and other necessary data which will be studied further for its future development.

India among the superpowers
Matching the likes of the superpowers: US, Britain, China, France and Russia; India has now registered its presence on the world stage boasting of the most advanced long-range missile technology.

Agni-5 would be India’s answer to China’s Dong Feng-31 and DF-41 which could strike at a distance of 6,000 to 8,000 km. It possesses the capability to bring the whole of China as well as other regions under its strike envelope.
The launch is a significant achievement for the Indian DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organisation) which embarked upon the IGMDP (Integrated Guided Missile Development Project) in 1983 under the stewardship of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

The surface-to-surface Agni V, a three-stage, all solid fuel powered missile, is capable of striking a target more than 5,000 km away. It is about 17 metrs long and two metre wide with launch weight of around 50 tonnes. The sophisticated missile can carry a nuclear warhead of more than one tonne.

"The sleek missile, within a few seconds of its blast-off from the Island launch pad roared majestically into the sky leaving behind it's trajectory, a trail of thin orange and white smoke before disappearing," said an eyewitness to the launch, conducted amid light drizzle.

India’s armoury of Agni series
According to sources, the DRDO is planning to conduct more such tests of the missile over the next one year after studying and analyzing the parameters achieved in each subsequent trial.

After achieving successful results from the first development trial of Agni IV, which has a strike range of more than 3,500 km, from the same launch pad on November 15, 2011, preparation for Agni V test had gathered momentum.
Scientists of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) associated with this project were busy for a couple of years to test launch the new missile in a possible suitable time.
Unlike other missiles of indigenously built Agni series, the latest one- Agni V- is the most advanced version having several new technologies incorporated in it in terms of navigation and guidance, warhead and engine.    

India has at present in its armoury of Agni series, Agni 1 with 700 km range, Agni 2 with 2,000 km range, Agni 3 and Agni 4, with 2,500 km to more than 3,500 km range.
DRDO Chief V K Saraswat had recently said the missile was being integrated at various facilities for the test launch. The maiden test-fire was witnessed by military officials, scientists and other agencies which participated in its development.

The Agni missiles will get deadlier once MIRV (multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles) payloads for them are developed. An MIRV payload on a missile carries several nuclear warheads, which can be programmed to hit different targets. A flurry of such missiles can hence completely overwhelm BMD (ballistic missile defence) systems.

ISRO plans biggest ever spacecraft by 2014

ISRO plans to launch its biggest ever spacecraft, the 5,000-kg GSAT-11, by 2014.
The advanced communication satellite, GSAT-11, will be double the capacity and size of the present buses, and will be built over the next two years.
GSAT-11 will have 32 transponders in the Ka and Ku bands, ISRO's just-released annual report for 2011-12, has revealed.
ISRO is banking on this large, one-shot boost to its flagging capacity. Only half of its present capacity — or 80 transponders — comes from its fleet of INSAT /GSAT communications satellites. The rest are leased on foreign satellites.
The present capacity of 175 transponders is around half of its requirement. It has been looking around to fill it. To date, GSAT-8 is the biggest national craft to be built. The 3,600-kg piece was launched by a European Ariane rocket last May.
Mr S. Satish, ISRO's spokesman, said the spacecraft proposal was due for formal approval. He said the 5k advanced craft would go up on a ‘procured' or outside launch. ISRO has traditionally used European Ariane launchers to put its larger satellites into orbit.
A normal 2-3k satellite costs around Rs 200 crore to assemble; and around the same for launch. For GSAT-11 and its launch, it could be an estimated Rs 700-800 crore.
“Subsystem level preliminary design review has been completed. The qualification programme for all new elements onboard GSAT-11 has been initiated,” the report says.
ISRO's medium-lift rocket under development, the GSLV, can launch up to 2,000-kg satellites into the middle-earth orbits that are suited for communication satellites — 36,000 km up above the earth.
The rocket is being perfected and has yet to be put fully in service. The GSLV MkIII, meant to lift heavier satellites of 4-6 tonne, looks far from GSAT-11's schedule.
Upcoming satellites would be a mix of 1k, 2k and 3k satellites, so that smaller ones like the 1,400-kg GSAT-12 can be launched quickly on the PSLV, he said.

India registered Highest Ever Trade Deficit of $184.9 billion in 2011-12

Commerce Secretary on 19 April 2012 announced that India surpassed the export target of $300 billion for 2011-12. India was able to surpass the trade target of $300 billion despite slowdown in demand in its traditional markets of the U.S. and Europe. Exports increased by 21 per cent to $303.7 billion in 2011-12 powered by a strong growth in petroleum, pharmaceuticals and engineering products.

However, imports surged by 32.1 per cent to $488.6 billion thereby leaving the highest-ever trade deficit of $184.9 billion.
Engineering exports grew by 16.9 per cent to $58.2 billion. Exports of petroleum and oil products surged by 38.5 per cent to $57.5 billion and gems and jewellery exports increased to $45.9 billion.

Other sectors which showed healthy performance with respect to export include drugs and pharmaceuticals up 21.9 per cent at $13.1 billion; leather (up 22.5 per cent) at $4.2 billion; electronics (up 9.2 per cent) at $9 billion; cotton yarn and fabric made-up (up 17.4 per cent) at $7.2 billion, readymade garments yarns and fabrics (up 18 per cent) at $13.7 billion and marine products (up 31.4 per cent) at $3.4 billion.

Imports also registered a huge surge with petroleum, oil and lubricants moving up by a steep 46.9 per cent to $155.6 billion largely due to increased prices in international markets. Imports of gold and silver jumped by 44.4 per cent to $61.5 billion while that of coal surged by 80.3 per cent to $17.6 billion.

Imports of machinery increased by 27.7 per cent to $35.4 billion; electronics goods by 23 per cent to $32.7 billion; iron and steel by 15 per cent to $11.9 billion; vegetable oil by 47.5 per cent to $9.7 billion; and fertilizer by 59 per cent to $11 billion. However, imports of gems and jewellery fell by 10.6 per cent to $31 billion.

Korean City of Changwon slated as the Venue for Shooting World Championship 2018

The shooting World Championship of 2018 was awarded to Korean city of Changwon on 17 April 2012. The decision regarding the venue of the championship was made at the General Assembly meeting of International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) in London.
The Korean government, as per the reports, has earmarked 30 million dollar to enhance the amenities in the shooting complex and organize the world championship with six shotgun ranges, 100 targets each in 10 metres and 50 metres apart from 14 lay-outs in the 25-metre range.
The last World Championship was held in Munich, Germany, in 2010 and the next championship will be held in Granada, Spain, in 2014.

Asia's largest solar field switched on in India

The west Indian state of Gujarat is flipping the switch on Asia's largest solar power field as part of its 600 megawatt solar energy addition to India's power grid.

The Gujarat Solar Park, spread across a desolate 3,000-acre (1,200-hectare) swath of desert, can supply 214 megawatts of electricity, making it larger than China's 200-megawatt Golmud Solar Park.

The project gives a serious boost to energy-hungry India's renewable energy ambitions. Overall, India wants renewables to account for at least 15 percent of its energy capacity by 2020, up from 6 percent of today's 185 gigawatt capacity.

The new solar park is unique in having 21 companies involved in its management and development, including four from the United States.

U.S. Consul General Peter Haas said at an inauguration ceremony  that America's involvement shows its commitment both to clean energy and to helping India meet its growing energy needs.

"The development of clean energy sources is crucial not only to development, it is also crucial to addressing climate change and energy security,'' he said in a statement.

India is still plagued with frequent power cuts nationwide, and 400 million people, a third of the population, still have no access to electricity at all.

Despite uncertainty over future coal sourcing and surging prices, the country has planned dozens of new coal-fired plants. But its reliance on coal for more than 55 percent of its needs has helped make India the world's fourth-largest carbon emitter.

To help wean itself from fossil fuels, India launched a national solar mission in 2009 with $19 billion pledged in credits, consumer subsidies and industry tax breaks to encourage investment.

With a wealth of sunshine and land, especially in the desert states of Gujarat and Rajasthan, India is aiming for solar to account for 3 percent of its capacity within eight years.

Industry experts say it will likely surpass that.

"We expect a lot more, actually, maybe 5-6 percent,'' said Sanjay Varghese, operations chief at Lanco Solar, which has a total of 56 megawatts of capacity in Gujarat, including 15 megawatts within the new field.

But reluctant financing and a reliance on imported parts has held up investment.

Gujarat, which provides 66% of India's solar generating capacity today, has led the solar drive by setting up an incentive program and energy policy early and establishing infrastructure including roads and power connections to the grid. Other states like Karnataka and Tamil Nadu are catching up.

Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi said the state is showing a world mired in climate change problems how to move forward.

"This achievement is not merely a step in the direction of power conservation, but it provides the world with a vision of how the power needs of future generations can be solved in an environment-friendly manner,'' he said.

Gujarat has budgeted another $400 million for developing renewable energy, and plans to encourage rooftop solar panels on homes, he said.

Gujarat first announced plans in 2009 for establishing solar parks, including Gujarat Solar Park in the northern desert of Patan district.